Monday, March 2, 2009

BDR Massacre: An act of revenge or a foreign-inspired ‘commando operation’?

By Dr. K. M. A. Malik, Cardiff, from:

As the extent of mayhem perpetrated on the army officers in the confines of BDR headquarters at Peelkhana grounds is being revealed, the whole nation is terribly shocked and scared of its potential consequences. While it is still too early to get a complete picture of what actually happened there on February 25-26, it is quite clear that large numbers of armed BDR solders not only rebelled against their lawful commanding officers (deputed from the army) but they also carried out a most gruesome murder campaign in cold blood.

According to a pres report as many as 135 army officers were killed or missing in the two-day mayhem (PM holds lengthy talks with officers :: Bangladesh :: ::, March 1, 2009). We condemn these acts of barbarity in strongest terms and convey our wholehearted sympathy to the family and friends of the victims.At the time of writing this essay (22.00 GMT, March 1), the nation is still in a state of shock and mourning. The rebellion has been quelled with many rebels in detention and others being asked to report for duty. Obviously it would take few days for some sort of normalcy to return. The exact numbers of those detained or who have reported back for duty are not yet known. We shall get a clearer picture in the next few days.

Meanwhile, many questions are being raised about the Peelkhana massacre and the masterminds behind the tragedy. The government has claimed success in bringing an end to the uprising and disarming the rebels ‘peacefully’, but others have criticised it for unnecessary delay which allowed the killers and most BDR soldiers to escape before the army could move into Peelkhana.The BDR soldiers on duty at the border posts, who were initially reported to have deserted on the rebellion at their Dhaka Headquarters, appear to have, by now, calmed down and returning to duties, preventing a total collapse of security at the border. And in these efforts, one should appreciate the role of the army which has shown tremendous courage and restraint in taking any immediate retaliatory actions against the rebel BDR soldiers. The army should also be thanked for not defying the authority of the lawful civilian government.

There were apprehensions in public mind that the army might take over, but this did not happen. The country has been spared another spell of undemocratic military rule.It is good to see that other political leaders including the leader of main opposition BNP have condemned the BDR rebellion and murder of army officers on the Peelkhana ground. They have also offered all cooperation needed by the government to conduct a thorough enquiry into this tragic event for the sake of truth and revealing the facts before the nation so that the renegade soldiers and their accomplices may be exposed and punished.

Although the BNP leader Khaleda Zia made a mild criticism about the delay in government response to the rebellion on February 25, she was unequivocal in supporting the government and army efforts in suppressing the revolt. But she was immediately criticised by some BAL leaders for not being quick enough to condemn the killers! (It is perhaps in our national culture to give more emphasis on smaller bits rather on looking a problem from a bigger perspective).

The government has already initiated an investigation process headed by home minister Sahara Khatun with representatives from other concerned ministries and agencies. The Sahara Committee is expected to submit a report within a week. It is also expected that the armed forces, BDR and different intelligence agencies will carry out their own investigations. While we have had the bad experience of many important investigations being conducted unprofessionally and hiding many unpleasant truths, we do hope that all the enquiries and investigations related to the BDR revolt would be carried out professionally and completely to unravel the truth and identify the real culprits.

It is also important that the government make public the salient points of the reports so that our people can restore their faith in the process of democratic governance. And under no circumstances, they would hide any failure or negligence on the part of any state organs or powerful quarters whether local or foreign.At the initial stage, the Peelkhana massacre looked like the wild actions by some disgruntled BDR soldiers who were dissatisfied with their service conditions and alleged ill-treatment by commanding officers from the army ranks.

However, it is quite clear by now that the massacre is not the instantaneous action of few individuals bent on taking revenge on their alleged ‘corrupt’ and ‘oppressive’ commanders but the result of a sophisticated ‘commando operation’ executed by the agents of powerful conspirators to destabilise Bangladesh as a state and demobilise its defence and security branches. Sowing seeds of confusion, mistrust, panic and hatred among different branches of state organs especially the armed forces and the border security forces as well as among the general public appear to be the immediate aim of this anti-Bangladesh operation.

The long-term objectives were and still remain to push the country towards a civil war situation, to cripple its own defence capabilities and create another ‘Somalia’ or ‘D R Congo’, to make it ungovernable without physical and financial support of the self-proclaimed ‘international’ or ‘regional’ imperialists and hegemonists.

In other words, cripple Bangladesh by all possible means so that at one stage it is forced to ‘invite foreign saviours’.It should be noted that both the government and opposition political leaders are agreed on the point that there is a deep rooted conspiracy behind the Peelkhana massacre. But who are the conspirators with such a hostile design on Bangladesh? Who are the people to profit from a ‘dysfunctional government’ or ‘failed state’ of Bangladesh? Would they ever be identified and exposed to our people and to the world?While the whole country is passing through a terrible shock and trying to recover from the trauma, it is quite disheartening to observe that some Indian quarters and their Bangladeshi cohorts are carrying out a campaign of ‘rumors’ and ‘unsubstantiated news’ regarding the Peelkhana tragedy.

As soon as the news of the BDR revolt started to filter out of Peelkhana, a New Delhi based news agency CNN-IBN carried a ‘story’ about the involvement of some opposition political parties including Bangladesh Jamat-e-Islami in the revolt. Similar ‘stories’ were also carried in the pro-BJP Bangla daily ‘Anandabazar Potrika’ of Kolkata. During the last five days, about twenty such ‘news’ items and articles have been published in different Indian media outlets. Anandabazar Potrika reported on March 1, that the army wants the prime minister to implicate several politicians including Moudud Ahmed (BNP) and Jahangir Kabir Nanak, MP (BAL, State Minister, LGRD) and Mirza Azam MP (BAL, Chief Whip) as associates of the BDR rebels.

We can not be sure at this stage if this sort of ‘news’ is true or false, but the question arises: how the Anandabazar journalists ‘know’ so much inside information that even the Dhaka journalists do not know?Clearly one group of people are suggesting that the Peelkhana massacre has been planned and executed by Jamat-i-Islami or similar ‘Islamist’ groups with active support of a section of Bangladesh security services including the army and DGFI. The main ‘argument’ is that these groups are opposed to BAL’s ‘secularism’ and proposed trial of the ‘war criminals’.

One Indian security analyst, B. Raman, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, has alleged that BDR has ‘unfriendly attitude’ towards India and that many of them have links with ‘fundamentalist and jihadi elements’ (Bad Omens From Bangladesh, February 27, 2009). Mr. Raman has also alleged that BDR killed 15 Indian BSF in 2001 (Sheikh Hasina was also the prime minister then) wrongfully and mutilated their bodies, but did not mention that the BSF forces, as aggressors, tried to physically occupy some Bangladesh lands and those BSF members killed were several miles inside Bangladesh border.

I wrote two newspaper articles at that time exposing the nature of Indian hypocrisy and aggression towards Bangladesh, which were subsequently included in my book ‘Bangladesher Rajniti : Mookh O Mookhosh’. I also exposed the anti-Bangladesh nature of a section of our media and ‘intellectuals’ who condemned the defending BDR forces and their commander Maj. Gen. Fazlur Rahman and supported the Indian aggressors.

It is very unfortunate that Bangladesh is perhaps the only country in the world where some influential media and public figures always condemn their own government, army and security forces (even if they do it right) and find no fault in the actions of Indian government and BSF (even if they are wrong). Some of these misguided elements and agents have even written newspaper articles arguing that ‘Bangladesh does not need any army’.

One well known pro-Indian columnist based in London was reported last year to have said in a meeting of ‘Bangladesh Hindu Buddha Christian Unity Council’ (a R&AW inspired anti-Bangladesh, anti-Muslim outfit) in New York that they should wage ‘armed struggle’ to realize their demands!So it is only natural that the Indian hegemonists and their Bangladeshi agents and supporters would try to blame those political parties and leaders who oppose the ‘Great Indian Game Design’ for the some political parties including Jamat-i-Islami and BNP, who are opposed to various Indian attempts to reduce Bangladesh as a client state.

I do not wish to say the some ‘Islamist’ groups may not be involved in the BDR massacre. But as far as we know these groups have mostly been subdued already by Bangladesh security forces. The remnants are still there, but would any body believe, unless concrete evidences are provided, that they have the motives and extreme military precision required for such an operation? It is also true that BNP is politically opposed to BAL and many of its pro-Indian policies, but what would they gain by destroying BDR, the first line of Bangladesh defence along the border?

BAL propagandists have always tried to gain political points by portraying BNP as an Uttor Para (or Dhaka cantonment) supported party, due to the fact that BNP has stood for a strong defence force. Is there any reason for this party to hatch conspiracy and incite violence within BDR so that about 130 mid ranking officers of Bangladesh army and defenders of country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty would be brutally killed? Is Khlaeda Zia or even Moudud Ahmed so naïve that they do not understand the implications of such a dangerous plot to destroy Bangladesh defence forces?

It is now revealed by eye-witness account of a surviving army officer that the murder campaign was initiated by a group of about 12-14 young people who arrived at the Peelkhana Durbar Hall in an arms loaded pick-up van NOT belonging to the BDR. It is also clear the whole episode of the officers’ massacre was completed in about 1-2 hours and that delaying tactics were then adopted to bury or hide most of the dead bodies and for the ring leaders to escape.

There are of course hundreds of questions that need answers for proper investigations, but the central question is the true identity of the above gang of assassins. Were any or all of them BDR soldiers or a ‘commando group’ trained and operated by an external agency like R&AW or MOSSAD? There is little doubt that this group is the core of the murderous operation and that it carried out its assigned task very successfully. This was no ordinary operation; it must have been carried out by a highly trained, professional group as portrayed in many Hollywood films. If we assume that it was an ‘outside job’, then it would be wrong to exclude R&AW and/or MOSSAD as possible masterminds of this operation.

Both these organizations have the motives, conspiratorial, organisational and technical capabilities and resources for this type of commando operation. They also have the past experience of planning and executing ‘commando operations’ in other countries.

Bangladesh is an easy target for them, because there is no shortage of local accomplices in exchange of money or other ‘benefits’.According to a report in the Telegraph (Calcutta), the Indian government is ready to send ‘peace-keepers’ into Bangladesh if the government requests for such ‘help’ (The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) Frontpage Indian peace mission signal, February 27, 2009). This sort of Indian offer for ‘help’ looks su**ious since Bangladesh does not need any help from Indian military to solve its internal problems. It is also strange that despite the US support to Hasina government’s handling of the Peelkhana crisis, one Indian report suggests that ‘the US too is encouraging India to play a “stabilising role” in the region’ (The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) Frontpage Dhaka disarm request to Delhi Eye on rebels on the run, March 1, 2009). Obviously, some media people in India think that Bangladesh is ripe for their military intervention. But nothing can be further from the truth.

Indian military forces are not welcome in Bangladesh under any pretext and any such adventurous move (even if any government is stupid enough to request for such Indian ‘help’) will be resisted by our people. We are aware of the Indian ‘peace-keeping’ role in Sri Lanka.In conclusion, we hope that Bangladesh authorities (both civil and military) would carry out thorough investigations into the whole conspiracy against the country’s sovereign existence (not only against the BAL government as some quarters want us to believe or against the army). It is a crime against Bangladesh itself, and should be treated as such.

The investigations must be based on concrete evidences and facts, to find out the truth, to expose the traitors, foreign agents and infiltrators (even if some of them are powerful), and to punish the culprits. No conclusions should be to drawn to fit into some pre-conceived hypothesis or on the ‘advice’ of some foreign agencies. We do not want any ‘show trial’ as happened in the past, but a genuine dispensation of justice.

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